The AHA Review Board: A Preliminary Report
The association sponsors three different kinds of publications, all of which serve the interests of historical studies. Obviously, the primary publication of the association is the American Historical Review. Other publications can be subsumed under two groupings: professional information, of which the Newsletter and the Employment Information Bulletin (formerly the Professional Register) are the significant examples, and teaching aids, of which the former AHA pamphlet series is the most obvious.
Because these publications and others like them now being considered reflect both the range of academic interest and the diversity of opinion among American historians, they should be maintained and further developed. To assure the best realization of this double objective, we recommend that these publications be made the primary responsibility of the Publications Committee. The editor of each should report directly to the committee, which should closely supervise all matters of policy, management, and fiscal accounting. The committee should also serve as the channel through which suggestions for new publications would be presented for discussion. The committee should also be charged with the task of appointing the editors of the Newsletter and the proposed “Historical Studies Series.”
Our review of the present state of publications and our suggestions for change follow:
The American Historical Review: The Review is unique among American historical publications in the catholicity of articles it prints, in the international recognition it enjoys, and in the range of American historical bibliography it provides, particularly to historians abroad. Recent innovations in format, content, and general appearance have been most beneficial. The extension of bibliographical appraisals and the decision to print an index every five years have enhanced the quality of the AHR as a reference source. We recommend that the Review assume the additional responsibility of including the archival information currently published in the Newsletter and of adding the information to the index.
The Newsletter: This publication is the least definable and most criticized of the association’s publications. It has, of course, been useful in providing news and information on activities of the association, professional societies, and individual members. Furthermore, it has been the channel through which association committees can report to the membership and receive commentary from it.
While we have been told the Newsletter is now being revised, we do find, on the basis of its present state, the need for a better constructed format in which more comprehensive news and information may be published under well-defined “departments” or headings so that such information and news can be more readily accessible. We further recommend that activities of other historical societies be accorded more space, that obituaries appear in the Newsletter, not in the AHR, that the reports of the proposed divisions be reproduced in the Newsletter, not in the Annual Report.
An AHA “Historical Studies Series”: We see this series as the successor to the pamphlet series, which was the main agent of the now defunct Service Center for Teachers of History. In 1970, the Committee on Teaching (originally responsible for the series) studied the status of the series and suggested revisions which the association accepted.
The major thrust of the revisions is the emphasis on a thematic, interpretative approach. The new emphasis will include rewriting the old pamphlet series in a new format, will suggest an important extension of the readership of the series beyond the classroom teacher and the graduate student, and will, we hope, seek to emulate the quality and appeal of the publications of the (English) Historical Association, which ours might well parallel. We do, however, recommend that the publications be called the “Historical Studies Series.”
With the breakdown and rearrangement of older academic hierarchies and with the reconsideration of definitions of areas of historical inquiry, we urge that the proposed Publications Committee and the editors of each of the association’s publications be mindful of possible new approaches to the publication of historical work under the aegis of the association. We encourage collaboration by secondary school and college/university authors. We strongly recommend that authors be selected who know the audience to whom they propose to address themselves. We ask the association to sponsor works which consider historical development in a broader cultural and disciplinary context than in the past. And we further ask that greater attention be given to cultures outside the Western context. Finally, such cognate publications as the proposed history education journal should, we think, receive the enthusiastic support and professional assistance of the Publications Committees.
Last Updated: July 25, 2007 10:20 AM